Who Won Indian Law and Policy in 2014? First Round Bracket — 1 of 8

Alright, let’s try this.

In category 1, Indian nations, we’ll divide the bracket up into two, so you’ll be voting in four contests here. Four more later in the day. Let’s say you have until midnight eastern to vote.


#1 Alaska Native tribes

My overall number one seed, what with Congress repealing the Alaska exceptions from VAWA, Interior adopting a fee to trust rule, a big voting rights win, an important victory for tribal court jurisdiction, and another win on tribal governance matters. And perhaps the biggest is the Supreme Court’s denial of cert in Alaska v. Jewell, the subsistence hunting case. Alaska has Judge Voluck, too. The Alaska Supreme Court has been making things harder on the ICWA front however, here, here, and here, though perhaps the DOJ’s intervention in one case will make a difference, and the government’s effort to set the Alaska AG right is encouraging.


# 16 Buena Vista Rancheria

The Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians made a splash in federal court this year, winning one in the Supreme Court (well, a denial of cert) and losing one in the D.C. Circuit.

# 8 Omaha Tribe

The Omaha Tribe won a huge victory in the Eighth Circuit, which affirmed Judge Richard “Hercules” Kopf’s decision rejecting Nebraska’s effort to have the tribe’s reservation declared disestablished.


# 9 Kialegee Tribal Town

The tribe won a big decision in the Tenth Circuit over its dispute with Oklahoma on the Broken Arrow Casino. A beneficiary of the massive Bay Mills win in the Supreme Court.

# 4 Cayuga Indian Nation

Cayuga won a big sovereign immunity decision in the Second Circuit, another beneficiary of the Bay Mills win in the Supreme Court. It wasn’t all pretty though, as tribal leadership disputes spill out in federal and state forums.


# 13 Big Lagoon Rancheria

One of the few tribes to make the list by not really winning anything in 2014; in fact, losing a biggie in the Ninth Circuit. But the court granted en banc review, and oral argument looked pretty good for tribal interests. We’ll see.

# 5 Resource tribes

Well, Interior announced that resource extraction royalties they collected reached over $1 Billion in a single year for the first time. But fracking is bad for the environment, the MHA Nation is overrun with corruption and human trafficking, and oil prices are down 33 percent. Hope they’re saving their money. Oh wait, they’re not. I guess this one is really about the MHA Nation, so let’s make that change now.

The real # 5, MHA Nation


# 12 Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Perhaps the most immediate beneficiary of the Bay Mills win in the Supreme Court, which persuaded the State of Michigan to seek another route to fighting Sault Tribe’s Lansing casino proposal. But not before Sault Tribe proposed two huge off-reservation casinos. Oh yeah, they won a $74 million contract case, too. Pretty good year. Ok, that persuades me, Sault Tribe’s seeding just jumped from 12 to 2 and knocks down BMIC, who actually won a SCT case this year.

The real # 12, Oneida Indian Tribe of Wisconsin

They earned a huge cert denial in their long-running fight with the Village of Hobart. And they filed an important amicus brief in the Stockbridge-Munsee cert petition.

Kate Fort on The New Laches and the Iroquois Land Claims

Kathryn Fort has posted a draft of her paper, Disruption and Impossibility: New Laches and the Unfortunate Resolution of the Iroquois Land Claims in Federal Court, forthcoming in the Wyoming Law Review as part of an Indian law symposium, on SSRN.

Here is the abstract:

That the law changes over time is no secret. That the law changes based on the parties involved is less obvious, but still no secret. In the case of the Haudenosaunee land claims cases, however, the law shifted dramatically and quickly based entirely on the identity of the parties. In less than five years, the federal appellate courts changed the law so drastically to all but end more than thirty years of modern litigation, reversing years of relative fairness at the district court level. These actions required a fundamental shift in the law of equity: the creation of a new equitable defense for governments against Indian land claims. How the courts accomplished so much in such a short amount of time requires a close reading of the cases and a few logical leaps.

The first part of this article will give a brief history of the New York land claims, focusing on the Oneida Indian Nation and the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York. While the tribes have been fighting the status of this land since the original agreements were signed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, this article looks to the modern era of land claims in the federal courts. The second part of this article will review how a decision in the Oneida claims case directly informed City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation. The third part will focus on the Cayuga Nation line of cases and how Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Pataki changed the fundamental understanding of the equitable defense of laches into a new defense used to defeat tribal land claims. Finally, the fourth part of this article will look closely at the most recent loss, Oneida Indian Nation v. County of Oneida, where the court admits the creation of a new equitable defense. This defense, identified as “new laches” or “Indian law laches” is a defense that can prevent even the bringing of a land claim in the courts. The defense is no longer traditional laches, but rather an equitable defense that follows none of the rules of equity, and exists only in federal Indian law.